David Chappell's

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling History

January  -  March 1977



January

February

March

Who's Hot 

& Who's Not

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st QUARTER 1977 - An Overview

As the year 1977 arrived, Jim Crockett Promotions was presented with the task of building upon the tremendous success that the promotion enjoyed in 1976. It would prove to be a difficult task. During a record-breaking cold snap around the area, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling would start the new year of 1977 breaking in two new main eventers, Kim Duk and the Mighty Igor. The promotion would lose two of its biggest stars during the first quarter of 1977, as Tim Woods and Paul Jones both left the area for several months. Additionally, Ric Flair was inactive for most of the first quarter nursing a surgically repaired shoulder. However, the Mid-Atlantic area would have one of its brightest moments ever in February of 1977 as an unheralded rookie by the name of Ricky Steamboat entered the area. Steamboat, referred to as "The Young Lion," would certainly "roar" into the forefront of Mid-Atlantic action by the middle of 1977 and would continue to be a huge star for Jim Crockett Promotions for the next eight years.

JANUARY 1977

The first Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show of 1977 was an eventful one and interestingly enough, the show aired on New Year's Day. On that show, two newcomers who would be important to the promotion in the early part of 1977 made their debuts.

The Mighty Igor entered the ring on January 1 with theme music, which was unheard of at the time. Igor would become one of the area's biggest stars during the year of 1977. Igor was managed briefly at this time by Ivan Kamikoff. Three weeks later, Igor returned to Mid-Atlantic television and awed the television audience with a number of incredible feats of strength.

The "Korean Assassin" Kim Duk also made his television debut on January 1, 1977. Duk was managed by Professor Boris Malenko, and would team often with the Masked Superstar forming the Malenko "family." Duk would be a main event performer for Jim Crockett Promotions during the first half of 1977. Duk had a great feud with Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Wahoo McDaniel during the first quarter of 1977. These bouts featured some of the stiffest chops ever thrown during the Mid-Atlantic era!

A new tag team of note entered the area during January, calling themselves the Hollywood Blondes. The team was composed of Jerry Brown and Buddy Roberts. Almost immediately upon entering the area, the Blondes captured the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles, defeating the highly respected team of "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods and Dino Bravo on January 17, 1977 in Greenville, SC. Woods would soon thereafter leave the Mid-Atlantic area. The Hollywood Blondes would continue to hold these titles through the first quarter of 1977.

The Mid-Atlantic area lost perhaps its biggest star for about six weeks, as Ric Flair had shoulder surgery in late January of 1977 and did not return to action until mid March. The promotion acknowledged the surgery, but opted not to strip Flair and partner Greg Valentine of their NWA World Tag Team Titles, which could not be defended during this time frame. Rather, upon Flair's return, a major buildup began between Flair and Valentine and the Anderson Brothers over the World's Tag Team Championship.

Finally, the month of January 1977 saw Greg Valentine defeat Rufus R. Jones for the Mid-Atlantic TV title in a televised match that aired on January 22, 1977. Valentine and Rufus thus continued to trade the TV Title, which they had been doing since November of 1976. With this victory, Valentine accomplished a rare feat, holding two titles at the same time. However, with Ric Flair on the disabled list, Valentine did not have to worry about defending his other title at this time, which was being one half of the World Tag Team Champions.

FEBRUARY 1977

February of 1977 was by far the most eventful month of the first quarter of 1977.

On February 6, 1977, a new NWA World's Heavyweight Champion was crowned as Harley Race defeated Terry Funk in Toronto, Canada for the prestigious title. Almost immediately, Race came to the Mid-Atlantic area and defended his new title. On February 18, 1977, Race risked his new belt in Richmond, Virginia and escaped with a win over top challenger Wahoo McDaniel.

On the first Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television program of February 1977, which aired on February 5th, a challenge occurred between Kim Duk and Wahoo McDaniel. Duk came out and attempted a demonstration where he attempted to break concrete blocks with his bare hands. Duk stumbled through the demonstration, but in the end was able to break a block after failing on his first two attempts while the Masked Superstar and announcer Bob Caudle tried profusely to explain away Duk's earlier failed attempts. Wahoo told the Malenko family he could do as well or better than Duk with breaking blocks with his chop. Predictably on the next Mid-Atlantic television program, the studio was set up for Wahoo to attempt the same feat as Duk did the week before, but Duk sneak attacked Wahoo before he could get started. Duk's attack on Wahoo started a nice feud between the two that lasted through the first quarter of 1977.

On the same February 5, 1977 Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television program, Gene and Ole Anderson made a rare TV appearance. While the Anderson's were no longer Mid-Atlantic regulars, they did appear in the arenas periodically and were no doubt looking to regain the NWA World Tag Team Titles from Ric Flair and Greg Valentine. Unfortunately for the Anderson's at this juncture, Ric Flair was out of action and the World Tag Team Titles were not being defended.

February also saw the return to action of a Mid-Atlantic mainstay, Johnny Weaver. Greg Valentine had injured Weaver in November of 1976, and Weaver had been nursing injuries since that time. Weaver's comeback sparked a series of "revenge" matches between Johnny and Greg during the next several months. These bouts presented an interesting contrast between the aging veteran Weaver, and the young but maturing star Valentine.

One of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's most enduring angles was presented to fans of the area on the February 25, 1977 edition of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling TV. A tape was shown by NWA "Trouble Shooter" George Scott of a match in Charlotte, NC between the Masked Superstar and the Mighty Igor. During the match, Superstar's manager Boris Malenko stuck his lit cigar into the eye of Igor causing extensive damage. While Malenko and Superstar adamantly claimed that the incident was an accident, George Scott disagreed and suspended Superstar indefinitely. This situation set up a blazing feud between the Masked Superstar and The Mighty Igor that would last into the fall of 1977.

 

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The biggest happening of the first quarter of 1977 occurred in February, but at the time it did not appear to be anything spectacular. A green rookie by the name of Ricky Steamboat made his debut in the area during the end of the month. Steamboat arrived on the scene with no real fanfare, and in fact wrestled preliminary bouts during his first weeks. While this young man's first push would be several months away, his vast potential was evident from even his earliest matches. A superstar was developing right before our eyes!

MARCH 1977

The month of March 1977 started out fast and furiously as Dino Bravo pinned Blackjack Mulligan twice on the same March 5, 1977 airing of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling from the WRAL studios! The angle had started the week before on Mid-Atlantic TV where David Crockett told Mulligan that he had to honor a "Dream Match" on TV against either Wahoo McDaniel, Paul Jones, Rufus R. Jones, Tiger Conway or Bravo. Mulligan selected Bravo, presumably because he felt Dino would be the easiest opponent. Bravo surprised Mulligan by pining him in the "Dream Match," and then when Mully attacked Dino in anger after the match, Bravo rolled him up and pinned the big man from Eagle Pass, Texas a second time! This was a terrific angle, and one that was a springboard for a significant program between Bravo and Mulligan in the weeks and months to come.

The same March 5, 1977 Mid Atlantic TV show saw the promotion brag about winning a number of awards from the NWA on its television production. The fans were told that Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling won the award for "Best Television Production," Robert Parnell won "Best Director," George Scott won "Best Technical Supervisor," and Bob Caudle and David Crockett won "Best Television Commentating Team."

Wahoo McDaniel had a strong month of March as he continued an impressive run as the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion. This was by far the Indian Chief's strongest showing as a singles champion during his tenure in Jim Crockett Promotions. Wahoo was particularly impressive in his title bouts against Kim Duk, where the chops thrown by both men were devastating!

Rufus R. Jones ended the back and forth switching between himself and Greg Valentine over the Mid-Atlantic TV Title by defeating Valentine for the title during the middle of the month. This switch enabled Greg to concentrate on an upcoming program that he and Ric Flair would have against Gene and Ole Anderson for the NWA World's Tag Team Titles.

Ric Flair returned to the mat wars in late March, and as was typical for Ric, hardly looked like he missed a beat after his surgery. However, the promotion lost one of its top performers at the end of March, as Paul Jones left the area after being unable to regain the United States Heavyweight Title from Blackjack Mulligan. Mulligan was in the midst of another strong reign as U.S. Champion, after defeating Jones in controversial fashion in December of 1976. Paul Jones would return to the area in the late summer of 1977, and would reestablish himself then as a top name for Jim Crockett Promotions.

The first three months of 1977 had newcomers establishing themselves, and old names leaving the area. Two of the greatest angles in the promotion's history, the "cigar in the eye" angle and the "beat him twice on the same TV program" angle had their genesis during the first quarter of 1977. Additionally, one of the biggest names in the history of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Ricky Steamboat, debuted for the promotion during this time period. Also, as March turned into April, the beginnings of major feuds between Blackjack Mulligan and Dino Bravo, and the Andersons against Ric Flair and Greg Valentine assured fans that there would be no drop off in excitement as the promotion headed into the second quarter of 1977!

WHO'S HOT - First Quarter 1977

1. DINO BRAVO---Bravo shocked everyone by defeating Blackjack Mulligan twice on TV within seven minutes. At this time, it appeared that Dino would be the man to take the U.S. Title away from Mulligan. Towards the end of the quarter, Bravo also formed a successful tag team with Tiger Conway, Jr., a team that would shortly thereafter win the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles. 

2. WAHOO McDANIEL---Wahoo had an outstanding run during the first quarter of 1977 as the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion. McDaniel took on a number of top challengers during this time frame, but always emerged with his belt. Wahoo was also the first Mid-Atlantic challenger for the new NWA World's Heavyweight Champion, Harley Race. 

3. MIGHTY IGOR---Despite being burned by Malenko's cigar, Igor emerged as a major player for Jim Crockett Promotions during this time frame. While his character was different than what many fans had grown accustomed to while following Jim Crockett Promotions, Igor's popularity at this time could not be denied.

WHO'S NOT - First Quarter 1977

1. TIM WOODS---"Mr. Wrestling" lost his share of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles in mid January 1977 and was not a factor for the promotion again. He left the area completely in February of 1977. Luckily for the fans of "Mr. Wrestling," he would return to the area in the fall of 1977 and once again established himself as a major player for Jim Crockett Promotions. 

2. PAUL JONES---Jones was unable to defeat Blackjack Mulligan for the U.S. Heavyweight Title during the first quarter of 1977, and Paul left the area by the end of March. Much like Tim Woods, Jones would return to the area in several months and at that time would become a major Mid-Atlantic star again. 

3. RIC FLAIR---It is hard to imagine Ric Flair in this "Not" category, but after an amazing fourth quarter of 1976, the Nature Boy slowed down considerably during the first months of 1977. Of course, this slowdown was caused principally by his being out of action due to shoulder surgery. By the end of the period, Ric was regaining his old form and positioning himself for another remarkable year in 1977.


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